MDB 5: Matthew 8

"Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" (Matt 8:26).

On more than one occasion, Jesus rebuked the disciples for having "little faith" (cf. Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20; Lk. 12:28). The disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee as a storm raged all around them.  And Jesus is sleeping (a sign of his real humanity - he was not a phantasm of apparition as Docetists claimed). And the disciples woke Jesus and said, "Do you not care that we are perishing?" (Mk. 4:38). It is natural for us to wonder, in the midst of suffering, whether God cares.  Among the disciples was Peter who later - having learned the lesson of this incident - slept in a prison cell as an angel comes and wakes him up, informing him to get ready and leave (Acts 12:6). The disciples had no need to question God's care - the One who held the stars in place was in the boat with them.

There is a difference between "little faith" and "no faith." The disciples believed but found that through the experience of difficult providences, they were subject to doubt. "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mk. 9:24). We find ourselves among their number, recoiling from what we know and believe to be true whenever circumstances make it difficult to observe that "all things are working our for the good of those who love God" (Rom. 8:28). We long that our faith would express itself in stronger ways and trials such as the one the disciples experienced are designed to stretch our faith, shape it so that it emerges more powerful and resolute than before. This may, in part, be an explanation for the why the trial (s) is sent to us. God is shaping and molding us for the future, weaning from our dependence on what can be seen so that our hope may be set on what cannot be seen (2 Cor. 4:18).